Short on space and want to compost? Read our composting basics and discover 6 composting tips to make the process easier in urban gardens
Composting can seem intimidating, especially if you are a beginner gardener. And what if you live in the city? You’re likely looking for composting tips, and probably have some questions percolating as well. What makes people hesitant to get started composting?
Where will I possibly put a bin in my limited space?
Will it be smelly and annoy my neighbors?
Will compost attract rodents?
When composting is done right, it’s really a remarkably simple process that will lead to what gardeners refer to as “black gold”—rich, finished soil that’s ready to make your vegetable garden flourish every year. There’s no smell, the neighbors won’t even notice, and the rodents will stay out if properly enclosed. When you amend your vegetable garden with compost, you are adding nutrients and feeding the soil microbiome to keep it healthy.
Even if you live in an area short on space, like a city lot or condo, you can compost with ease. Here are a few composting basics you need to know to get started:
- Know your browns and greens. Browns = carbon-rich = things that take longer to break down, like sticks, shredded newspaper, and dry leaves. Greens = nitrogen-rich = things that break down quickly, like grass, coffee grounds, and kitchen scraps. Here’s a list of common items to compost (and those that you should avoid).
- Keep your compost pile in a sunny area to accelerate the process.
- Watch moisture levels. Don’t let your compost pile dry out and keep them moist (but not soggy).
- Keep your compost pile well aerated by turning it regularly—the more you turn it the faster your pile will decompose.
- Layering your kitchen scraps with several inches of plant material works to reduce or even eliminate the need to turn your pile—a nice mix of browns and greens. Plus, it keeps your pile from getting slimy—vegetable scraps are naturally moist.
- Avoid using any diseased plants or yard waste as it will spread and make the pile unhealthy. Also avoid using anything that was sprayed with weed killer or pesticides. Keep it organic!
Here are 6 composting tips that make it easy for urban gardeners:
- Use an enclosed composting tumbler. They speed up the process, keep rodents out, and turning the pile is much easier. You can even find insulated versions for the winter, and dual-sided versions so you can compost faster.
- Keep a kitchen countertop compost bin handy. As you cook, you can add your scraps to the bin. Then take your scraps out to the larger compost bin whenever you take out the trash.
- Try a worm composting bin (vermicomposter). They don’t take up much space, you can compost inside all year, and you can make your own bin. Check out the EPA’s recommendations for starting a worm bin.
- Get innovative – you can make compost bins out of things around the house, like MIgardener did with a trash can.
- Make fertilizer tea to add some nutrients to the vegetable garden if you don’t want to make full compost.
- Check with your city for composting tips—many cities offer free or inexpensive bins. Or, if you are not looking to garden but want to be more sustainable and help the planet, see if your city has a composting program. Some urban areas are offering drop off sites for your compostable items.
We like to amend our Eco Garden Systems Original Gardens with compost using the lasagna method at the end of every gardening season. It’s a good way to ease into the process of creating better soil. Are composting tips are just another of the many easy ways we help you to get started as an urban gardener.
Tell us: What’s keeping you from composting?